Videotaped depos and listening/adding every false start/stutter

Okay.   This has been a question I've wanted to ask for a long time:  Do you listen to every word of the audio and put in all the stutters and false starts in a videotaped depo, or have your scopist do it?  I'm not talking words you missed; I'm talking the stutters and actual false starts.


I tell you, I cringe when my scopist puts in all the false starts and stutters.  I know they're supposed to be in there when it's a videotaped depo, I guess, but I just think it looks so bad. 

She'll put in "the -- the -- the --" and I know maybe that's how it's supposed to be done - I'm not faulting her - but I take that stuff out.  No attorney that hires a court reporting agency wants to see that in their transcript as to what they said; just looks terrible. 

I do put in the false starts if the job is videotaped but not if it's not videotaped.  Example:


Q     When did  -- who brought this issue to your attention?


What do you do?  What's your practice?  I know the answers are going to be all across the board on this one I bet.

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In my particular case the agency seemed to be doing the synching because the emails were coming from a woman at the agency.   Many agencies do post-production, which of course the VAOFRs don't like at all because they lose those billables, so it's definitely not just VAOFRs who are doing synching.     I will err more on the side of extraneous in the future so as to avoid the situation I described earlier.

I agree with both Lisas.  I"ve worked for 20 years for a guy who's been reporting for at least 35 years.  He never even listens to the video!  He says, "I'm the official record, not the videotape.  They don't need that junk in there."

I won't go that far, but if they say I -- I -- five times, maybe I'll put in two of them.  And I never ever ever put in partial words.  Yeah, there could be an exception here or there like with the brain injury, but that's not the norm.  In a video, I'll put in the false starts usually, but not the stutters/Porky Pig (love that!)

And to the atty who taped it himself, I would have said, "Too bad, buddy!  THIS is the official record."  I wouldn't go back and change a thing, unless it was something critical, like a sentence left out or "yes" for "no."  Not because he said "okay" 12 times and I only put in three!

Marge, I meant let *them* do it, whoever it is. Having us do it? Not when we're the official record, and not for a lousy quarter a page.

But I see your wanting to be more cautious if there's ever been an issue. I think MA had something similar.

I am one to use what I call placeholder blurbs, to have something there in case it helps with synching later. So I do use (Discussion held off the stenographic record.), for example. I've also used (Reporter clarification.) for this reason, but not every time. I agree with you, Kelli, that attorneys don't want to see all that. I can see putting it in a couple times to cover yourself, kind of thing. I've heard that discussed. But not each and every word, each and every time. I did see that once in a previous transcript. "THE REPORTER: Excuse me. Will you please repeat starting from blah, blah?" and "Will you please slow down?" throughout. Yikes.

I do that kind of thing too, Deborah, five times down to two, so that I don't take away the flavor of the speaker.

Lisa, I've done exactly what you've stated above "The Reporter...." in video depos because of the syncing, but I don't do that in normal depos.  From experience when I was a new reporter (before I did audio) I had to keep saying "Can you please slow down" without putting it on the record, the record was a mess, so bad that I actually had to call our Board, and the Board's response was in order for them to stand behind the reporter that they need to put down every time they ask for a slow down.  All I can say is that after the depo I started to record everything just in case.  I still ask them to slow down, but I don't put it on the record.

I hear that, Rosalie. And again, it makes sense that you or anyone would want to be cautious going forward if there've been issues. :) I just feel that I am the official record, I am the one trained and certified in making the official record, not someone else who's there providing other services, and I am not going to be dictated to by that person.

I like and have very good relationships with the vast majority of videographers, including using a setup that is out of their way, being FB friends, and trading work tips, etc. But they certainly don't dictate to me as to what goes on the record. 

There's no way I include obviously assumed off-the-record housekeeping drek such as Tami's stapler discussion. Agree with her completely. I didn't do it--for a good reason--before video, and I'm not going to do it now just because video is there. As I said before, let the videographer/software/whatever sync to me, not vice versa. And as I also said before, I definitely do my part, such as with including different-word false starts and including placeholders. So I can hardly be faulted, despite part of my statement being quoted out of context, and, like you, Kelli, I've never had a transcript questioned.

IMO, this is just another example of the age-old conundrum re labor distribution. VAOFRS and agencies want *us* to do this stuff, whereas we want *them* to do it on their end. It's understandable from both perspectives, but of course I am on the side of the reporters. :)

Hi everyone, Les here (Accurate Evidence Legal Video in Dallas/Fort Worth).

These are excellent questions, important considerations, and from the video standpoint after 34 years of specializing strictly in this, all your answers are actually correct, and all the expressed viewpoints are totally valid!  I'll however, add this for consideration.

The primary issue regarding entering all the verbage relates mostly to syncing, when required, which, these days is quite common.  For the system to properly recognize all that it needs to maintain appropriate accuracy, it typically does need to "see" all that is said, in order to coordinate with all that it "hears" (from the video).  While stutters are not so crucial, some false starts, if complete words, can and often do have an affect.

Some videographers may simply be too polite or shy to mention it (which, regardless, might only come up after experiencing difficulties from a past transcript from a reporter who left out quite a bit), but most don't know the importance enough to address it.

Don't get me wrong.  It can be done regardless (and is, of course).  It merely risks some spots that could possibly invite inaccuracies at some of the sync points, because even with the painstaking process of reviewing the entire deposition (which should ALWAYS be done when syncing, regardless of the anticipated dependability), such areas can easily be missed.  In our case for example, we will not let syncs out of our office unless we've made absolutely certain that they're 100% perfect at every single line.  NO one ever should!

What IS important (other than stutters, etc.), is that the reporter always take down everything that occurs on the record, including housekeeping remarks, and absolutely whatever is stated by the videographer, such as (but not limited to) on and off the record announcements, the time, etc. For depos that are by video, the best general guidline would be; anything that the video recording hears, should be in print, again, EXCEPT the stutters and "short form" (partial syllables) false starts.

Lisa M's point is a good one, that things are improved, and yes, as I mentioned above, sure it can be done. Like most everything though, it's not a perfect science, and there are numerous factors on which accuracy depends.  I admit however, with all due respect, that I have a slightly different perspective than was made by another member, saying "Who cares if it doesn't sync up..."   I think we all want everything to be the best possible for the client.

I've related this to about a dozen or so reporters here in the Dallas/FW area who may not have previously known to include at least the videographers statements, and most have happily changed that practice immediately.  Of course, when the record is not accompanied by video, I am personally in full agreement with absolutely providing a "cleaner" transcript that doesn't reflect the unnecessary stammers and false starts.  In fact, whenever we provide the older conventional type of editing for trial, we, ourselves, edit those out for a smoother presentation.  After all, we're not doing anything whatsoever that would affect the substance or accuracy in reproducing the questions or testimony!

Hope everyone has a TERRIFIC holiday season!

Regards to all,

Les    (-:     


Thank you for posting this, Les.  Very good information for us reporters!


Precisely what I've been saying, but SOOOO much more eloquent and believable coming from a pro!!!  Thank you!!

Thanks for responding to the synching issue, Les.

I hope you don't interpret this as being disrespectful, because I certainly don't mean it to be; but respectfully, I don't see the synching thing to be my job.  I will not include an eight-line exchange about a jammed stapler so the transcript synchs perfectly without any adjustment.  The "stapler scene" will never be played in front of jurors.  No one wants to read it either. 

It sounds like that does create extra work for the video producer, but it's an added service; so...

I'm glad to hear you review the entire product before you send it out.  I can't believe there are others that don't.

Would it be of some benefit for you to search the transcript for open parentheses; so you will know at which points we may have edited?  Then you can make sure you're back in synch after.

Thanks, Les!  I appreciate your input.  I have a question for you.  When the questioning attorney turns to his paralegal or co-counsel and says, Get me Tab 27, blah, blah, I put in a parenthetical (Discussion off the record.)  It's usually said quietly.  Does that cause a problem with syncing or does the parenthetical cover it?

I don't put anything because they are turning towards their paralegal and asking for something so I don't write anything.  Most of the time I can't hear what they're saying anyways. 

I don't put (Discussion held off record) because there was not an agreement of all parties to go off the record, so you can't use that blurb if someone said something under their breath.  At least that's my two cents of that blurb in Janet's instance.

First, thanks very much Christi, Janet, Tami and Rosalie!  Your compliments and productive input is certainly appreciated!

To begin answering, Janet, yours is probably the easiest.  Again, thanks for your cooperative interest!  However, for those who know the ins and outs of properly syncing, the parenthetical "Discussion off the record" is absolutely fine, and doesn't cause any problem!  I am on most everyone else's page... there are certain things that aren't necessary in order to keep a nice, clean transcript, and in the circumstance you're describing, yes, it falls under good judgment.  I agree that a soft spoken remark to a paralegal or other assistant, such as "hand me that stapler, etc." can be taken as an implied off-record remark!  So, you're fine, no problem at all!  Thanks!

Tami, as I always say, we're all in this together, and therefore I'd never take anything as insulting or disrespectful (but thanks for mentioning it)!  We're supposed to share our thoughts and concerns for the benefit of our overall common goal!  And, you're correct, the syncing itself isn't, and shouldn't need to be your job.  As I responded to Janet's question, sure, your suggestion of using the open parens, especially with the notation of off-record discussion as Janet proposed is excellent! 

We deal with that in transcripts all the time (as well as many other varying "issues" that aren't always so ideal!), and while it does occasionally take considerably more work, sure, it's ours to handle, and we do just that.  Points that I would maintain as important however (even for the transcript itself), include the videographer's announcement and especially their voice stamping indicating when we're going on and off the record, and certainly the corresponding times stated with each.  Those should always be included in the transcript.

Also, as to your reference that not everyone fully checks thoroughly on every single sync job, you wouldn't believe how many we see that are off-accuracy.  Sometimes, the actual speech begins as much as 2 to 3 seconds (or occasionally even more) before or after the (supposedly synced) line begins.  Realistically, being even 1/2 second off is not acceptable, particularly when it could cut off the slightest part of any word, or include more than it should.  Such unintended inclusion could even conceivably create grounds for a mistrial, if it is unexpected by counsel.

In great part, where I'm coming from with the interest in ensuring the best end result, is that; with us being the "video department" for so many dozens of reporters and reporting firms, we DO represent THEIR names on the door along with Accurate Evidence Legal Video.  When we exercise everything in our power to look good to the client, we make the reporters look good as well, and that's important to us.  I'm just far more obsessed with all the small details that go into producing the best possible video than most feel is necessary.  In fact, I fully realize that I even occasionally drive my videographers nuts with my "particulars" required to meet our expectations!  But, I also have no problem admitting that it's an OCD personality issue!   (-:  

Thanks again everyone!  Cheers and enjoy!




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